Its about two decades since alcohol was declared as a class I carcinogen that is cancer causing agent. But because it is ingrained as part of traditional toast in many parts of the western world , nobody is able to toss it out their lives. The focus was on safe or moderate drinking for years. Earlier this year it was well established that no amount of alcohol is safe. It is directly linked to the causation of about seven cancers including breast cancer.
This year in the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium the speaker presented data implicating alcohol even as low as half a glass a day to breast cancer. She hoped that after the talk none of the delegates would dare to have a glass of margherita in the evening. Quite contrary to what she said the evening saw most of the delegates including women line up for the wine and cheese reception.
The risk of breast cancer increases by 10 % for each and every drink per day. It also increases the chances of recurrence after breast cancer. However most women defy the fact that even moderate drinking is not safe and continue to consume alcohol.
Alcohol acts on the liver and increases the levels of estrogen in the body. Apart from this it also sensitises the breast to cancer causing signals in the cells. It makes the cells prone to cancer formation and subsequent growth.
The past two decades have seen an exponential increase in the number of drinking women all over the world. With it there has been an exponential rise in the number of cancers in women. India as such was immune to drinking but the present generation of women have taken to social drinking avidly and it has been observed that in women even if the amount of alcohol consumed is less it is equivalent to consuming double the dose in men.
With the increasing trend in drinking women of the highest young population of the world India is expected to see a 20 to 30 % rise in the number of braest cancers attributed to alcohol per se. What is interesting about alcohol intake is that it is a very much modifiable risk factor like obesity or hormonal pills making it a preventable cause of breast cancer.
As opposed to non modifiable risk factors like age, a no alcohol policy or a “dry life” reduces the chances of seven cancers in women. So women far from the brewing crowd lies the secret of a cancer free life.